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Minnesota is rich in blogs, and alternative media such as The Uptake .  Is another blog really needed?  Good question!   My main reason for setting it up is to have a place to archive and link to various emails and posts. Continue Reading →

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Marty, Garofolo gag public at “Legislative Energy Commission”

Xcel Energy 1940s coal plant burning garbage from Ramsey and Washington counties in Red Wing (Goodhue County). Permit expired since June, 2009

Xcel Energy 1940s coal plant burning garbage from Ramsey and Washington counties in Red Wing (Goodhue County). Permit expired since June, 2009

First, thank to all who sent emails or made calls to Ramsey and Washington county commissioners about the garbage grinder purchase.  As expected, the commissioners ignored public input and voted to go ahead with their incineration schemes.  A lot more work will be needed to turn this situation around.  More details shortly.


Should people be allowed to participate, to at least comment, at public  meetings of public bodies?

One would think so, but this is often not the case in Minnesota, and somehow people have come to accept it, or at least gotten used to it.

The Legislative Energy Commission

One of the worst examples is the so-called Legislative Energy Commission (LEC), co-chaired by a Senator and a Representative,–at the moment these are Sen. John Marty and Rep. Pat Garofolo.   The full membership is listed here.

According to the Legislature’s website “The commission also monitors the state’s progress in achieving goals to develop renewable sources of electric energy; evaluates progress in reducing greenhouse gas emissions; reviews and recommends proposed energy legislation and takes public testimony on energy issues.” [emphasis added.]

Upcoming meeting Sept, 24th

The LEC is meeting at 3:00 PM on September 24th (Room 10, State Office Building, St. Paul)   Here is who gets to speak (full agenda here):

Rick Evans – Director of Regional Government Affairs, Xcel Energy
Eric Olsen – Vice President and General Counsel, Great River Energy
Julie Pierce – Director of Power Supply, Minnesota Power
Bill Black – Government Relations Director, Minnesota Municipal Utilities Association
Loren Laugtug – Legislative Affairs Manager, Otter Tail Power
J. Drake Hamilton – Science Policy Director, Fresh Energy

No public comment or testimony solicited or allowed!  Why?

These, of course, are the same utilities working to block the expansion of solar and continue burning coal.  They are causing Minnesota’s  energy policy problems. “Fresh Energy” is likely the worst, most wrongheaded and overpaid self-serving energy-wonk organization I’ve ever encountered, with a history of promoting garbage incineration, transmission, and “biomass” pollution.  See, for example, this upcoming disgusting event,” where the featured speakers represent the biggest air polluter in St. Paul, and a “biomass” lobby (mis)representing itself as “a trusted source of environmental information.”

So how did this public-excluding agenda come about?  The Executive Director of the LEC, Annie Levenson-Falk (her previous employer was the “Citizens League”) said in an email: “the speakers and the agenda were set by the co-chairs and myself.”  We had no luck getting in touch with these co-chairs.  This attitude of gagging the public and rolling out the red carpet for fat-cat interests didn’t originate with Marty, Garofolo, and Levenson-Falk.  A previous LEC co-chair, Rep. Melissa Hortman, told us “we don’t have time for open mike.”  Levenson-Falk, in an email, said “The LEC doesn’t typically have a public comment period in its meetings.”

So, lower-income ratepayers, environmental justice communities, people concerned about the need for and siting of energy facilities, people truly concerned about climate change, people concerned about the connection between waste management and energy issues, can just be quiet, and listen to bullshit from utility lobbyists.  Or better yet, not show up at all.

With these values and attitudes, is it any wonder that in the last legislative session Marty and Garofolo both rolled out what we called “mega-horrible utility deregulation bills.”  In spite of the strong opposition of the Attorney General, Xcel and Minnesota Power and the other utilities got most of what they wanted.  Xcel’s been boasting about this ever since.  See this investor presentation, for example.

So, doubtless the utilities will be coming back to the Legislature for another bite out of the apple, another reach into ratepayers pockets, more stalling on solar and efficiency, all using the “Clean Power Plan” as an excuse.  Marty, Garofolo, and the other LEC members need to be properly programmed and given legislation to carry.  So, we get meetings that are an orchestrated farce.

What you can do:

Energy policy issues can be complex and confusing.  But letting the public have a voice is simple and obvious.  Please contact call and email Marty and Garofolo, and the other members, and ask them to allow public testimony, not just pre-selected special interest testimony, at all LEC meetings:

Calls are often more effective than emails.

Sen John Marty:  (651) 296-5645, jmarty@senate.mn

Rep. Pat Garofolo: 651-296-1069, rep.pat.garofalo@house.mn

All emails in one bunch:

jmarty@senate.mn , sen.david.brown@senate.mn, sen.david.osmek@senate.mn, sen.julie.rosen@senate.mn, sen.david.senjem@senate.mn, sen.dan.sparks@senate.mn, rep.jean.wagenius@house.mn , rep.chris.swedzinski@house.mn , rep.jeanne.poppe@house.mn , rep.john.petersburg@house.mn , rep.joyce.peppin@house.mn , rep.tim.mahoney@house.mn , rep.melissa.hortman@house.mn , rep.tom.hackbarth@house.mn , rep.paul.anderson@house.mn , rep.pat.garofalo@house.mn , sen.jim.metzen@senate.mn

The senators below have withheld their emails, but there is a–less convenient–email contact form for each of them:

Sen Scott Dibble

Sen. Kari Dziedzic

Sen. David J. Tomassoni


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Car manufacturers cheat …..

The Volksvagen emission cheating scandal is broader than VW and has major health and environmental implications:





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Update on Washington/Ramsey county garbage grinder/incineration scam

For some reason the links to the Eureka Recycling videos did not work on the email.  But they work fine from the web post, so go there to see them.

The two county board meetings are at 9:00 am Tuesday morning the 22nd.

Washington County:

“The public is invited to attend and participate in Washington County Board Meetings, which are most Tuesdays at 9 a.m. in the Board Room at the Washington County Government Center, 14949 62nd St. N., Stillwater.” and “South Washington County Telecommunications Commission web streams all Board meetings to view online.”  Map of location.  I could not find a detailed agenda.

Ramsey County:

Room 22o, Courthouse, 15 West Kellog Blvd, St Paul

The agenda has seven items related to the incinerator scheme.  There is no indication that public comment will be allowed.  I suspect it will not.

Incinerator emissions and pretty pictures

Take a look at the pic below.  This is how the commissioners of Ramsey and Washington counties burn their garbage in Red Wing and (Mankato).  Whatever happens tomorrow, this fight is far from over…..

Xcel Energy 1940s coal plant burning garbage from Ramsey and Washington counties in Red Wing (Goodhue County). Permit expired since June, 2009

Xcel Energy 1940s converted coal plant burning garbage from Ramsey and Washington counties in Red Wing (Goodhue County). Permit expired since June, 2009  Close to 1.5 million pounds of regulated, health-damaging air pollutants belch our every year (not counting carbon dioxide  emissions).

Some emissions numbers from the MPCA for the Red Wing burners:

Carbon monoxide  121,399 pounds

Lead                                    69 pounds

NOx                        1,212,168 pounds

PM10                      21,046 pounds

Sulfur dioxide        101,949 pounds

Ammonia                149 pounds


acid                        16,040 pounds

Chromium             18.11 pounds

Manganese            20.22 pounds


Red Wing Total                                             1,472,958 pounds

Rough total Mankato                                  1,791,161 pounds

Combined total:  3,264,119  Well over three million pounds of health damaging air pollutants.

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Arrogance at work: Ramsey and Washington county boards, and mainstream media, deny public a voice on garbage burning

Xcel Energy 1940s coal plant burning garbage from Ramsey and Washington counties in Red Wing (Goodhue County).  Permit expired since June, 2009

Xcel Energy 1940s coal plant burning garbage from Ramsey and Washington counties in Red Wing (Goodhue County). Permit expired since June, 2009

For a lighter approach to this see these two very nice, brief, videos from Eureka Recycling:

Then, please take action by contacting county commissioners (info below) and attending a board meeting on Tuesday morning.

Continue Reading →

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Almost blacked out in the Pioneer Press ….

This story ran in the Pioneer Press on May 12th.  The reporter at least talked to us.

Ramsey, Washington counties eye Newport garbage-processing plant

Continue Reading →

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Blacked out in the Star-Tribune…..

This article appeared in the Strib.  No mention of community/environmental concerns.

Trash costs drive Ramsey, Washington counties to consider Newport plant buyout
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MN Elected Officials Letter of Support for Clean Power Plan

September 15, 2015

The Honorable Governor Mark Dayton
116 Veterans Service Building
20 W 12th Street
St. Paul, MN 55155

Dear Governor Dayton:

We, the undersigned elected officials, formally submit this letter to express our support for the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) first-ever limits on dangerous carbon pollution from existing power plants using authority granted under section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act. Moreover, we submit this letter to encourage you to continue our state’s leadership on environmental and energy policy by developing a strong and just compliance plan for Minnesota’s implementation of the Clean Power Plan with a strong emphasis on renewable energy and energy efficiency. Continue Reading →

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“Zero Waste” or more polluting, carbon-belching incineration??


“Zero Waste” or more polluting, carbon-belching incineration??

Decisions have consequences.  Minneapolis people in the 1980s put up a strong fight against building the HERC garbage burner in Minneapolis.  They lost, and got decades of polluted air, inflated bills, and a recycling rate of 17 percent.  It was an expensive loss.  This is finally turning around, we think, but only because over the last few years people put up a strong fight against expanded burning at the HERC. Continue Reading →

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Five of Minnesotas eight Congresscritters voted to weaken/block EPA regulation of coal ash:

Congress makes the wrong move on coal ash rules

H.R. 1734 and Senate companion bill S. 1803 are intended to prevent EPA’s (weak) coal ash regulation rule from going into effect.  165 Democrats voted against 1734 and only 19 voted for it.  239 Republicans vote for it and only ONE against.  Stats here. Continue Reading →

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Commentary: City must be diligent on solar


By Alan Muller

 Red Wing
The Legislature and the Public Utilities Commission have focused attention on the relationships between Xcel Energy and solar garden developers, but given little attention to the relationships between developers and “subscribers.” What would the contracts look like? What would the actual cost be? What protections would subscribers and landowners have if a developer failed? What are the true benefits to subscribers and investors?

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